„Just as the activities of the mind influence the breath, so does the breath influence our state of mind."
Focus on Nadi Shodhana - Alternate Nostril Breathing
Pranayama - the practice of conscious breathing techniques - comes in many varieties. All of them with unique benefits and purposes. Before you next reach for a painkiller, a cup of coffee or buy an overly expensive detoxifying face mask, literally JUST BREATHE because quite likely there is a pranayama-practice for your needs! These might do the trick just as well, without all the chemicals and more good news: they are easy to learn and totally free!
If you are new to Pranayama, alternate nostril breathing or Nadi Shodhana in Sanskrit, is a good starting point that is recommended for beginners too.
What is Nadi Shodhana?
Also called the channel purification. It is a cleansing breathing practice, characterized by inhaling and exhaling through only one nostril at a time, alternating with each cycle of breath.
What is it good for?
This pranayama has a deeply calming effect on your nervous system, bringing more harmony and balance to your mind, as it unifies the left and right hemisphere of your brain. Besides being deeply calming, this practice is also cleansing, and helps you refocus and recenter your mind.
How do you practice Nadi Shodhana?
Sit with your head and spine long and let your shoulders relax. Make sure you are comfortable but focused.
Bring your preferred hand into the special hand position (mudra) used to close off your nostrils: the index finger and middle fingers are folded into the palm, so you can use the thumb to close the right nostril and the ring finger to close the left nostril. Gently close your eyes.
While performing Nadi Shodhana, try to breathe deeply and with the help of your diaphragm. Start by inhaling through both nostrils, then close one nostril with either thumb or ring finger and breathe out through the open nostril. Breathe in through the same nostril, then change your finger and close the opposite nostril, breathe out through this nostril. Repeat one cycle of breath on each side, before switching sides. Remember to make your inhales and exhales the same length for maximum benefit. You may continue breathing like this for at least six cycles. To complete your practice, lower your hand and take three breaths through both nostrils.
Important points to consider: for best results, it is recommended that you perform this pranayama twice daily, 5 minutes for each session. Do not practice alternate nostril breathing if you have high blood pressure, respiratory diseases, fever, a seizure disorder or if you feel dizzy. Happy pranayama-ing!